Using Cloud Shadows to Infer Scene Structure and Camera Calibration

author: Nathan Jacobs, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis
published: July 19, 2010,   recorded: June 2010,   views: 4584


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We explore the use of clouds as a form of structured lighting to capture the 3D structure of outdoor scenes observed over time from a static camera. We derive two cues that relate 3D distances to changes in pixel intensity due to clouds shadows. The first cue is primarily spatial, works with low frame-rate time lapses, and supports estimating focal length and scene structure, up to a scale ambiguity. The second cue depends on cloud motion and has a more complex, but still linear, ambiguity. We describe a method that uses the spatial cue to estimate a depth map and a method that combines both cues. Results on time lapses of several outdoor scenes show that these cues enable estimating scene geometry and camera focal length.

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